DC Cops Learn From FBI: Regularly Invent Crimes To Arrest 'Possible Future' Criminals

from the minority-report dept

As we recently discussed, it's becoming readily apparent that the FBI's most vaunted counter-terrorism wins are almost all stings for "crimes" they made up all by themselves and then coerced others to join. Even for those that don't have a problem with this kind of practice in theory, it has to be jarring to learn just how many of these "terrorists" are either suffering serious mental or social illnesses or have had their confessions beaten out of them. By all appearances, it looks pretty clear that the FBI is bumping up their "win" statistics on the backs of these highly questionable stings.

So of course local law enforcement is getting in on the action as well. Take the police in Washington D.C., for instance, who are featured in a Washington Post story detailing how they invent armed robbery plans whole-cloth and then recruit civilians to join up shortly before arresting these future-criminals. Some of the plots the police of devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving robbing liquor stores and targets that are supposedly drug dealers. After discussing the plans with an undercover cop, everyone is then arrested and charged with a variety of "conspiracy to commit" charges. According to some experts, the government is on firm legal ground with regards to entrapment.

The government is on solid legal ground, experts say, when it comes to fending off allegations that suspects were set up — or entrapped — by the police. Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime.
Sure, and if you're a defendant in one of these cases, good luck convincing anyone that you didn't have a predisposition for the crime you were tricked into thinking you were going to commit. Again, it's easy to opine that these are bad people, but that doesn't take into account mental illness and pressure applied by undercover officers eager to bolster their arrest statistics. According to reports, that kind of pressure included giving minors alcohol and/or taking them to strip clubs, because nobody has ever made themselves out to be something they're not when drunk or in the presence of naked members of the opposite sex. The question becomes whether anything like the made up crime would have ever happened had it not been first invented by the police.
“When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has studied undercover policing tactics.
It's even worse when the police engineer aspects of the made up crimes in the sting in order to manufacture longer sentences for the would-be criminals they ensnare.
Tinto and others also take issue with the government’s ability to essentially engineer tough penalties by controlling the details of the made-up crime. Part of the reason the District cases have been so successful, according to defense lawyers, is that the potential jail time for the federal conspiracy charge is steep enough that many defendants are more inclined to make a deal with prosecutors than risk losing at trial.
The global problem in all of this is the aim: this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals. Will the police likely get some violent criminals off the streets with this tactic? Sure, but so could actual police work and, as I indicated, that isn't what this is all about. On top of that, the questions raised by the tactic are serious and some of the people caught up in all this probably aren't benefited most by engineered jail time. Add to all that questions about who the police are generally going to look towards as targets of this kind of sting operation (gasp, minorities), and we should be left wondering why they aren't fighting the crime that exists rather than making up crime that otherwise wouldn't.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:27am

    Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    So if this is not entrapment, what is? Is it enough to show that you never expressed interest, or will they then try to get you on how you knew a crime was being planned and didn't turn in the would-be culprits (who are actually undercover cops)? How quickly do you need to run away when the would-be crime is first discussed to establish that you definitely didn't want to be part of it? Based on how far this has already gone, will the courts let the undercover cops commit a real crime to demonstrate street cred to the planned sting victim? I don't just mean setting up a false rap sheet, but actually committing it in a way that the sting victim can personally witness.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:35am

    Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    It would probably never come up. They more then likely use the copyright troll tactic. Target everyone and only go after the ones stupid enough to not ask questions. It would never catch any real criminals, but it will catch a lot of people too stupid to be a threat on their own.

    I shouldn't call it the copyright troll tactic. Should call it the Prince of Nigeria tactic. Target everyone and hope enough people fall for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    TasMot (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Solving a crime after it's committed is too hard.....

    Have you ever reported a stolen item to the police? They give you a copy of the report and then you're forgotten. My friend had a mini-van stolen. He had to find it because the police couldn't. But they gave him a report for his insurance company for filing a claim. I mean, it was a couple of blocks away, not in the next state.
    If they manufacture a crime whole-cloth, then they know exactly where to show up and arrest everybody. So much easier since they are also providing the fake weapons and they can't get shot. Everybody wins except the "criminals" that are all mouth and no action until they are stood in place with fake gun in hand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:39am

    "Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime."

    WTF happened to innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof being with the accuser?

    Perhaps it's time for groups like Copwatch to try to infiltrate and sting some of these sting operations to expose what their tactics and who is actually behind them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:42am

    DC Cops Learn From FBI

    Just another group of freetards that think it is ok to steal someone else's ideas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:46am

    What?

    Some of the plots the police of devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving ... targets that are supposedly drug dealers.

    Because they're targeting crime against drug dealers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:46am

    Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    The police committing actual crimes to make cases in sting ops happens all the time. The sale of illegal drugs on the street is a crime for both parties involved in the transaction. When an undercover cop buys or sells drugs on the street in order to arrest the other individual in the transaction, engaging in that transaction is still a crime regardless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Applesauce, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Police don't have much choice...

    FBI statistics show crime, especially violent crime has been falling since the 1970's (about the time that tetra-ethyl lead started being removed from the environment).
    With less real crime being committed, the cops have no choice but to invent crime to justify having a job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Roger Strong (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Someone alert the MPAA

    Up next: The MPAA runs anti-piracy ads in theatres, with a "You wouldn't steal a car" theme. Microphones pick up anyone responding along the lines of "No, but I would totally download a car if it left the original in place." They would be arrested for conspiracy to steal cars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:53am

    Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    This isn't entrapment in the same way that lobbying isn't bribery.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:05am

    Lets face it folks ,we are all screwed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    The sale of illegal drugs on the street is a crime for both parties involved in the transaction.
    Right, but not what was meant. The question was addressed to the idea of whether it is permitted for an undercover cop to, say, rob a convenience store while the future-sting-victim watches from across the street, thereby "proving" the undercover cop is willing to commit a crime. The idea was seeded off the mafia style of inductees conducting a murder-for-hire to prove themselves to the family, but includes plenty of lesser crimes too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    bob, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Re: Solving a crime after it's committed is too hard.....

    don't forget the trunk full of cocaine in the getaway car that was put there by the police. that should get some hard time for the perp. leave some room for a bit of ebola virus and you can nab a drug dealing bio-terrorist. :-P
    the cops just aren't being imaginative enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Vel the Enigmatic, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    I know why they're making it up.

    Cause real crime doesn't get them paid enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    The cops don't need to rob a bank for that. They just need to get the bank to let them stage a fake robbery where they give all the money back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:37am

    Enhanced Community Watch

    This may be a symptom not only of the dropped crime rate (I had forgotten about the tetra-ethyl lead factor, but like to blame the internet. Thanks Applesauce) but also of our resistance to call the cops since they either a) file and ignore if they can't be bothered, or b) grab the most obvious suspect and bully the shit out of them, either way making the situation only worse.

    If we start seeing new community vigilante groups appear who solve neighborhood problems and police report rates drop to negligible, we know this is what's happening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Padpaw (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    Your country is has become a third world banana republic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    We're working on it, but all the good examples are copyrighted by the CIA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:54am

    Your country is has become a third world banana republic.

    Sure about the "republic" part?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 11:58am

    Re: Police don't have much choice...

    about the time that tetra-ethyl lead started being removed from the environment

    This is some insane bit of info o.o

    I'd also argue that marijuana usage for recreation is on the rise and it's a pacifying drug too along with the reasons but that would require further study.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    My country has become...

    I don't think we're a Republic anymore.

    The United States is a third-world banana.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Police don't have much choice...

    Next you will argue it is all part of a meta El Nino cycle.

    Or would that be El Nino in relation to the quality of the global pot harvest?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re: Police don't have much choice...

    about the time that tetra-ethyl lead started being removed from the environment

    This is some insane bit of info o.o


    No this is absolutely solid evidence - the correlation is observable nation by nation (and state by state in the US).

    I am normally totally skeptical about the correlation-causation thing - but the evidence here is solid.

    Of course the US poli9ce reaction to this would be to demand that the lead levels of the population be tested and incarcerate everyone showing a high level!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Not entrapment...sure...pull the other one...

    HA!
    another great pithy remark...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Patrick, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    I said it yesterday

    Why don't they set up stings like this for robbing a 7/11. They could get a lot of would be armed robbers off the street.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Police don't have much choice...

    Personally I suspect unemployment and under-employment are to blame for its rise of use. If you're going nowhere fast in the economy and are working retail or a crap fast-food job might as well smoke weed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Enhanced Community Watch

    Nah, they'd just arrest everyone involved as 'vigilantes', can't have the regular citizens showing up the police after all, then how are they supposed to justify needing an armored truck or two, maybe a couple of assault rifles and sets of heavy duty body armor? /s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Padpaw (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:34pm

    Re:

    your still a republic in name if not reality. Even if most Americans are ignorant of their history

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Bob V (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 4:09am

    Re:

    Just another example of the entitled poor looking for handouts from the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Police don't have much choice...

    Oh I meant in a good way. As in unbelievable even though it's real. My bad. The marijuana part was serious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    Things like this happen all the time on TV shows

    “When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto..."

    I disagree.
    How many people watch crime shows or movies like "Ocean's Eleven" and think it's not that hard to pull off a crime caper. All you need is a smart guy, a getaway car, maybe 2 or 3 hired muscle-guys, a foolproof plan, and you're in!
    Heck, I saw a Jason Statham movie the other night where they easily stole money from a state fair and hid out in Miami... and met Jennifer Lopez! You can't tell me that doesn't happen in real life. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    You're under arrest for considering our offer.

    "this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals"

    Don't mean to pee on yer party here, but methinks ye might want to take a wee peek at whether or not there may be another "incentive" behind these phony arrests... one that is slightly less apparent, but pretty obvious just the same.

    Like perhaps, there's an under-the-table per-head finder's fee being quietly offered to (crooked) cops by the many corporate incarceration firms, in order to increase their occupancy rates at a faster pace. More bodies, more income and all that.

    Just a thought.

    ---

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Police don't have much choice...

    Don't forget global warming. As temps are going up people are becoming less violent. So pass the Mai Thai and let the beach come to us rather than us go to the beach.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    FBI insider, Jul 30th, 2014 @ 12:13am

    Pizza Hut

    As of 7/30/2014 all FBI offices will offer their employees free Pizza Hut on Fridays. There is a 4 piece maximum. If you are very fat talk to your boss about extra pieces.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    mark ulmer, Oct 24th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    This is really happening

    this is happening to me and now I'm on the run. They set me up to look like a narc for a bust they did and I heard was going to happen. Sounds crazy but I will be killed by the person they busted. They made it look like I did it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.